Desert-Wise Living >> Desert-Wise Landscaping >> Plant Spotlight

Plant Spotlight: Agave

In the cool winter days of February when nothing much seems to be going on in the landscape, agaves stand out in the garden with their grey-green palette and strong structure.
Quite a few varieties of agave thrive in the Morongo Basin. Due to the differences in altitude, an agave that does well in Twentynine Palms may be too cold sensitive for Pioneertown's chilly winter temps. Experiment and talk to other gardeners about what works for them. Agaves are great "pass along" plants as they often produce offspring or "pups".
Don't rely on the big box stores to have vetted cold hardiness of agave for our area. They may sell plants in the Morongo Basin that cannot take our low temps. (Note: an agave can sometimes recover from cold damage to leaves.) 
Photos by Stacy Doolittle
A plus about agave is that animals tend to leave it alone once it gains in size (therefore screen young plants).
Agaves are native to North and South America. Our native agave is the grey-leaved desert agave (Agave deserti). 
Other agave varieties that do well in the Morongo Basin are:
IMG_6946.jpg   Agave lophantha "Splendida" which is best in clumps of three to seven (and tolerates some shade). Note the flashy lighter center stripe. 
  Blue-green Artichoke Agave (Agave parryi truncata) which forms medium-sized clumps
octopus.JPG   Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana) which has no protective spines and prefers an eastern exposure or some shade. Pictured in background container is Agave bovicornuta, cow horn agave.
blue_glow.JPG   The hybrid Agave "Blue Glow" also performs very well in full sun in the Basin. 


  The large and colorful Agave americana variegata is a tried-and-true plant for our area, and makes a great single specimen to anchor a design. This juvenile plant is caged against predators. 

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  • Stacy Doolittle
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